8 Things to Try with the Kids at Home or on Your Daily Exercise22 May 2020
What have you learnt from 9 weeks of lockdown?
Likely what Zoom is, alongside a few fibs to dodge the 4th quiz of the week. Perhaps how to make your own tagliatelle, or what a burpee is (thanks very much Joe Wicks).
We’ve learnt – or rather re-learnt – the irrepressible draw of the outdoors. Lockdown policy on exercise has highlighted its role in our physical and mental health. Getting outside to exercise is classed as an essential part of daily life.
If you hadn’t been getting your ‘one exercise a day’ pre-lockdown, you’re not alone. But these strange times remind us of the healing power and childlike joy of being in nature.
Exercise is a powerful pick-me-up. Whatever the activity, moving our muscles gets our heart rate up, pumping oxygen and feel-good endorphins around our bodies.
Spending time outside is also a great way to press reset. We are far more sensitive to our environment than many realise. You may have heard of Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder (SAD) as an argument for going outside.
But did you know that the colour blue stimulates the anterior hypothalamus area of the brain? This is responsible for our parasympathetic nervous system, our ‘rest and digest’ state. Stimulating it with the colour blue lowers our heart rate and blood pressure. It also aids digestion and healthy glycogen production in the liver. At Long Barn Cottages in beautiful South Devon, we’re treated to many hues of blue. Turquoise sea, clouds of dusky-sweet bluebells, and hummingbird skies. No wonder we feel so content after a day unwinding in the big blue.
As of Wednesday, 13th May, this has all got far more achievable. Those of us in England can take unlimited daily exercise as long as we are socially distanced from others (at least 2m apart). So, don your trainers and head outside! It’s time to explore… we’ve put together a list of 8 outdoor, family-friendly activities you can do in the garden or on your daily exercise.
1. Let’s Go! Fly a kite
Create your own family fun - all you need is a breeze, a kite and a large open space! Flying a kite is great fun for kids (and grown-up kids). It’s also more skilful than it can seem, leading to plenty of teamwork or friendly competition depending on your family. If you don’t have a kite to hand why not make your own? You will need a few sticks, piece of paper and some twine, find out how here.
2. Create a daisy chain
Everyone loves daisies – this quick craft takes 10 minutes and is sure to brighten someone’s day. All you need are some daisies, or other flowers. Scour your garden, local park or open space, but be sure to leave plenty for the bees!
How to make a daisy chain:
- Pick daisies with long stems
- Make a slit in the thickest part of your daisy stem with your fingernail (if your nails are too short use a plastic knife).
- Once you have created a hole, take another daisy from your collection and thread the stem through the hole.
- This is the start of your daisy chain, continue with steps 2-3 until you have a daisy chain of the desired length.
Turn your daisy chain into a crown, bracelet or necklace just add a second slit in the final daisy and form a loop. Wear your daisy chain as a summery flower crown or make a friendship bracelet for a loved one.
3. Race Snails
Snails love to camp out in gardens or green spaces. You’ll find these shell-clad creatures in cool, shaded areas. Not always a gardener’s friend, snails can bug those nurturing flowers and crops. So why not make the most of their presence with a family snail race? All you need is some live snails, coloured stickers and some chalk or string.
How to race snails:
- Forage in the garden for snails
- Identify each snail with a coloured sticker
- Use the chalk or string to draw a racetrack with a start and finish line (be sure not to make the track too long as snails are extremely slow!)
- Pop the snails on the start line and cheer them on!
Once the race is finished remove the stickers and be sure to pop them back where you found them. Don’t forget to wash your hands too!
4. Forage for wild food
People have been foraging for many years, so why not give it a try? It involves searching for edible flowers, herbs and fruit. Its joys are simple and obvious. Foraging is plentiful, delicious, free, and fun. Why not start with elderflower –a firm favourite with the scent of a British summer. Its delicately perfumed clouds are abundant and extremely versatile. Used the flowers and berries in anything from cordial to jam, just be sure to cook them (they are mildly toxic raw).
Elderflowers are ready for harvesting from late May until June. The best time to pick your elderflowers is on a dry, sunny morning – snip off the flower heads with as little stalk as possible so the plant is not damaged. Do not wash the flowers under water as you will dilute their delicate flavour. Then why not try making your own elderflower cordial?
5. Watch the Sunset
Long Barn Holiday Cottages are situated in the heart of the South Devon countryside with wonderful views of rolling hills. While Devon may be a sunset lover’s dream, wherever you view it, a sunset is a spectacle to behold.
Find a view to the west, pack up a hot flask of tea, and take front row seats for nature’s evening show. Watch the sky drain of blue, as deep pinks and blushes of orange brighten the sky. We recommend getting into position early to enjoy the full experience!
6. Create a Rainbow
Rainbows have become a symbol of 2020. They spread happiness (and a smile) and express our gratitude for the fantastic work of our country’s National Health Service. Most of us have drawn or coloured-in rainbows that are proudly placed in our windows, but why stop there…
We challenge you to create a rainbow from petals, leaves or objects you can find in the garden or outside. Don’t forget to share your creations with us on Facebook.
7. Plant Seeds
Growing seeds is not only rewarding but educational – the perfect home-schooling science lesson! You can grow your own fruit, vegetables, herbs or flowers, the list is endless.
Our favourites are sunflowers – they’re fast-growing, minimal effort, and they look like bursts of sunshine to boot! All you need to get started is a pack of sunflower seeds, a little compost, a plant pot (or newspaper to make your own plant pots!), water and a warm windowsill. Or why not get the complete DIY kit with Beecycle.
Grow your own sunflowers:
- Fill the plant pot with compost
- Water the compost until moist
- Sow the seeds (follow the instructions on the reverse of the packet with sowing information)
- Place on a warm, sunny windowsill and watch your sunflowers grow
- Remember to water daily to create happy plants
8. Build a Sandcastle on the Beach
With miles of glorious coastline on our doorstep, you’ll be spoilt for choice when staying at Long Barn Holiday Cottages. Devon does fabulous, child-friendly beaches to a tee. Pack a bucket and spade and head to one of our favourites: Broadsands, Goodrington Sands, Preston Sands and Meadfoot Beach. All these beaches boast beautiful views and crystal-clear water—the perfect backdrop to your creations.
We challenge you to create the biggest sand sculpture. Share your sand creations with us on Facebook.
Can you spot any of these animals in your garden or on your daily exercise? All of these animals can be spotted at Long Barn Holiday Cottages – when you next visit keep an eye out.
- Give yourself a point for each individual sighting.
- It’s up to you if your pets count…
We hope to re-open our Cottages in line with Government advice on the 4th July 2020. In the meantime, please continue to share your adventures with us on Facebook as you explore the outdoors! See you soon.